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Closed petition Reverse the decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill

I want the Government to reverse their decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, as this legislation contains important provisions for the LGBT community in Scotland. We are a United Kingdom, and the UK Government should not block devolved legislation.

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Government responded

This response was given on 7 February 2023

This decision was made due to the adverse effects that would arise from the Bill and its significant impact on GB-wide equalities matters. This is not about changing the rights of transgender people.

Read the response in full

On 17 January the Secretary of State for Scotland made an order under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, preventing the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent. After thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications, the UK Government concluded that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation. This is set out in the statement of reasons published on gov.uk which can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-reasons-related-to-the-use-of-section-35-of-the-scotland-act-1998

This is the first time the section 35 power has been used, and the UK Government recognises this a significant decision. However the section 35 power was included by the architects of the Scotland Act to ensure in a situation like this that devolved law and the law throughout the United Kingdom could work effectively.

To be clear, this action is being taken because of the adverse effects that would arise from the Bill. This is not about changing the rights of transgender people. We have a long-established world-leading equality framework that protects everyone, including transgender people, from discrimination, harassment and victimisation and advances equality of opportunity for all.

The UK Government’s view is that the balance struck in the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which currently governs the law in this area, is correct. The system provides proper checks and balances, while also supporting people who want to change their legal sex.

However, we recognise that responsibility for gender recognition is devolved in Scotland. It is now up to the Scottish Government to bring an amended Bill back for reconsideration in the Scottish Parliament, should it choose to do so.

Scotland Office